Decision 2014

Gubernatorial Debate Debate Continues, Candidates Unable to Agree

Updated with Sen. Wendy Davis Response:

The candidates for governor are still sparring over the format and sponsor for a September 30 debate. Democrat Wendy Davis announced today that she would be willing concede to a change in the debate format for the originally agreed upon WFAA-TV sponsored debate.

Last week, Republican Greg Abbott backed out of the round-table match-up, citing a disagreement over formatting. Instead, he proposed an alternative statewide televised debate on KERA/KXAS-TV. Abbott had previously turned down that offer, but changed his mind on Friday.

Tuesday, the Davis campaign released a statement saying they would be willing to reconsider. “We have spoken with WFAA this afternoon and expressed our willingness to alter the previously agreed upon debate format to accommodate the Abbott campaign’s concerns about the lack of timed responses,” said campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas.

The Abbott campaign, however, says it will not return to the negotiating table. ”Greg Abbott is and has been ready, willing and eager to participate in two statewide debates,” campaign manager Wayne Hamilton said. “Only after losing the debate to other outlets did WFAA ask for and receive permission from the Davis campaign to restructure the debate – something they could have done three months ago or even three days ago.”

Update:

Davis is leaving the door open to the possibility of the alternate debate, however the campaign is critical of Abbott’s refusal to participate in a format with looser restrictions. In a statement, spokesman Zac Petkanas said:

“If Greg Abbott isn’t tough enough to handle a roundtable discussion in front of a statewide audience, it’s hard to see how he’s tough enough to be Governor of Texas. However, the fact that Greg Abbott isn’t willing to keep his word shouldn’t deprive voters of the chance to see both candidates debate issues like his defense of $5.4 billion in public education cuts.  In that spirit, we will open discussions with KERA tomorrow regarding the possibility of a debate.”

Attorney General Abbott says he will still take part in the KERA/KXAS-TV debate. Both candidates have also agreed to a September 19 debate in the Rio Grande Valley. That debate will be seen on Sinclair stations across Texas.

 

Updated: Abbott Highlights Personal Story in New TV Ad

Updated to include Texas Democratic Party Response:

In a new television ad, Attorney General Greg Abbott is highlighting his recovery following an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Abbott, who is the Republican running for governor, released the new spot, Tuesday. The ad shows him rolling his wheelchair to the roof of a parking garage.

In the narration, he says, “After my accident I had to rebuild my strength. I would roll up an eight story parking garage. Spending hours going up the ramps. With each floor, it got harder and harder. But I wouldn’t quit. ‘Just one more,’ I’d tell myself. ‘Just one more.’ I see life that way. And it’s how I’ll govern Texas. To get to the top, we must push ourselves to do just one more.”

You can watch the ad in English and Spanish, below.


The Texas Democratic Party was quick to respond to Abbott’s new television ad with an attack of its own. In a press release, party officials pointed to a 1999 case when Abbott sided sided against a woman who was sexually assaulted in an unattended parking garage. Abbott was a member of the Texas Supreme Court at the time.

In a statement, Texas Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Lisa Paul said:

“Greg Abbott felt safe enough to use a parking garage as his training ground, it’s unfortunate he couldn’t give Texas women that same sense of safety. Greg Abbott sided against female victims four times in sexual assault cases while serving on the Texas Supreme Court, including one where the victim was assaulted in a parking garage.

“In his new ad Greg Abbott claims he won’t quit, but he’s already given up on Texas women.”

Update: Abbott Proposes Alternate Dallas Debate

Updated with Wendy Davis Response

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is proposing an alternative statewide televised debate. Abbott announced Friday evening that he would accept an invitation from KERA, NBC5/KXAS-TV, Telemundo 39 and The Dallas Morning News. The announcement came hours after WFAA-TV reported that Abbott was backing out of an already scheduled debate on Sept. 30.

WFAA officials said the Abbott campaign formally accepted the terms of their debate back in May, but then disagreed with a proposed round table format. In a statement on their website, WFAA General Manager said:

“We are deeply disappointed that the Abbott campaign has not lived up to the commitment it made to participate in this important debate. WFAA has produced numerous debates which are balanced and fair to all the candidates. This debate would be no different. The citizens of Texas deserve to hear from the candidates for the most important office in the state.”

In a press release, Abbott said he withdrew from the WFAA debate due to an”inability to agree on a suitable format.”  He said the new proposal would also allow the debate to be distributed statewide without restrictions.

Abbott’s Democratic challenger Sen. Wendy Davis’ campaign issued a statement, saying she will consider the proposal.

“There have been reports that the Abbott campaign has ‘committed’ to another debate, but as we learned today Greg Abbott’s commitments don’t mean very much.

“Wendy Davis has already committed the evening of September 30th to a debate on WFAA.  The station has asked to have a discussion on Tuesday, September 2nd to discuss options given the recent developments and, as Wendy Davis is someone who honors her commitments, the campaign looks forward to having that discussion.”

So far, the only confirmed debate before the November election is scheduled in the Rio Grande Valley, later this month. It will be distributed to Sinclair stations in Austin, San Antonio and certain other Texas markets.

Organizers of South Texas Gubernatorial Debate Clarify Details

Now that Attorney General Greg Abbott has pulled out of the televised gubernatorial debate with State Sen. Wendy Davis scheduled for Sept. 30 in Dallas, does that leave all of us without a statewide televised debate? That depends on your definition of statewide.

According to WFAA-TV, theirs would have been the only debate available in every television market in the state. That would have included all Gannett-owned stations in Texas in the following markets: Abilene, Austin, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Tyler/Longview, San Angelo, San Antonio, Waco, and Bryan/College Station. Any station located in a non-Gannett market would have also been allowed to broadcast the debate.

According to Carlos Sanchez, editor of the McAllen Monitor, the debate his newspaper is co-sponsoring will air on all Sinclair-owned television stations across the state, including: Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont/Port Arthur, El Paso, Harlingen/Weslaco/Brownsville/McAllen, and San Antonio. While it is not be available to English-language stations in other Texas markets, it will be available live on the Internet, and will be simulcast in Spanish on all Telemundo stations in Texas. That debate is scheduled for Sept. 19.

As for formats, WFAA indicated theirs would have been a “round-table” format without strict time guidelines. Sanchez said the Rio Grande Valley debate will have a more traditional format, with timed responses. Each candidate will get one minute to respond to a question, and 45 seconds to offer a rebuttal. There will be no opening statements. Each candidate will receive two minutes for a closing statement.

 

 

 

Davis Responds to Abbott’s Decision to Cancel Debate

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott has backed out of the only scheduled statewide televised debate before the November election. The debate, which was to be hosted by WFAA-TV, was set to be held in Dallas on Sept. 30. Station officials say Abbott’s campaign cited concerns over the format as the reason for the reversal.

In a statement on their website, WFAA-TV General Manager Mike Devlin said,

“We are deeply disappointed that the Abbott campaign has not lived up to the commitment it made to participate in this important debate. WFAA has produced numerous debates which are balanced and fair to all the candidates. This debate would be no different. The citizens of Texas deserve to hear from the candidates for the most important office in the state.”

Abbott’s Democratic challenger Sen. Wendy Davis had initially proposed six debates across the state. Abbott only agreed to a debate in McAllen later this month, and the now-cancelled WFAA debate.

Davis campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas issued this statement, Friday:

“It’s no surprise that Greg Abbott is pulling out of a long planned debate the day after he was defeated in court for protecting billions in public education cuts that have led to overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and shuttered schools. Greg Abbott is clearly too afraid to defend his record of siding with insiders at the expense of Texans – whether it’s defending funding cuts for classrooms, siding with a corporation against a victim of rape or letting his donors take tens of millions of taxpayer dollars intended for cancer research. This is nothing short of an insult to the voters of Texas.”

Texas Candidates for Governor Respond to School Finance Ruling

Any possible changes the Texas Legislature makes to the school finance system will happen under the watch of the next governor. 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is the current attorney general. His office represents the state in school finance litigation. Officially, his office said he would defend this law in court, just as he would any other law passed by the Legislature.

Later Thursday, his campaign released this statement:

“Our obligation is to improve education for our children rather than just doubling down on an outdated education system constructed decades ago. In my campaign for governor, I have proposed substantial improvements for our schools that will do a better job of educating Texans while spending tax dollars wisely. My plan will make Texas top-ranked in the nation for education by returning genuine local control to school districts, ensuring all children are reading and doing math at grade level by third grade, and graduating more students from high school than ever before.”

Sen. Wendy Davis is also weighing in on today’s ruling. She has long criticized the Legislature’s decision to slash $5.4 billion in school spending in 2011. In a statement Thursday, she said:

“Today is a victory for our schools, for the future of our state and for the promise of opportunity that’s at the core of who we are as Texans. The reality is clear and indefensible: insiders like Greg Abbott haven’t been working for our schools; they’ve been actively working against them. Abbott has been in court for years, defending overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and public-school closings, and today, Judge John Dietz ruled against him. This ruling underscores the crucial need to invest in education and reminds us of just how much our schools, teachers and students have had to sacrifice over the past three years just to get by.”

Capital Tonight: Is Going Negative a Good Strategy for Davis?

The Wendy Davis campaign has come out swinging with its first statewide TV ad, attacking Greg Abbott for his decision in a 1998 case during his time as a Texas Supreme Court Justice. Meanwhile, the Abbott team is taking a friendlier approach, focusing on the candidate’s family and history instead.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at both strategies to see why going negative might work.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

The Texas delegation in Congress is back in-district and defending their response to the border situation. We heard from House members on both sides of the aisle. Plus, Bob Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Mike Ward of the Houston Chronicle and Texas Monthly’s Erica Grieder joined us to weigh in on that story and more. 

 

CHECKING THE FACTS

Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to break down two claims, including one from Gov. Perry on border-crossings and the threat of terrorism. 

Davis Team’s First Statewide Ad Attacks Abbott over 1998 Decision

The Wendy Davis team has revealed its first statewide TV ad, an attack on Gregg Abbott over his ruling in a 1998 case involving a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman and the accusation of rape.

Entitled “A Texas Story,” the 60-second ad refers to a 1993 case in which a woman accused a door-to-door Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman of raping her in her own home. The salesman was not prosecuted for the crime, but the case went before the Texas Supreme Court after the woman sued the Kirby company for punitive damages, claiming that a simple background check would have shown the man’s criminal history and prevented the sexual assault.

The court ruled in 6-3 favor of the woman, with then-Justice Abbott joining in the dissenting side. In their dissenting opinion, Abbott and Justice Priscilla Owen said Kirby “owed no duty” to the victim under the circumstances of the case.

You can watch the full ad below.

Patrick Names New Communications Director

Sen. Dan Patrick announced Monday that his campaign has hired Alejandro Garcia as its new communications director. Garcia previously worked as the director of border affairs under three Texas secretaries of state. He also worked as press secretary for Gov. Rick Perry’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

In a statement, campaign manager Allen Blakemore said:

“We are very excited to have Alejandro join the campaign as our new Communications Director. Alejandro has hit the ground running and brings a fresh perspective to the team.  His political campaign experience in communications strategy is a perfect fit to secure our victory in the upcoming November election.”

Patrick, a Republican, is running to replace current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. He faces Democrat Leticia Van de Putte in the November election.

Patrick, Van de Putte Running Close Financial Race

Republican Sen. Dan Patrick and Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte are running a tight financial race to be the next Texas lieutenant governor.

According to campaign fundraising numbers released this week, Patrick has raised nearly $7.8 million since he started his campaign in July 2013. Patrick, who ran a bitter primary against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, attributes about $1 million of that money to the post-runoff donations. Patrick has about $950,000 in cash on hand.

Democrat Leticia Van de Putte, meanwhile, has $1.6 million in her campaign bank account. Van de Putte, who ran unopposed during the primary, has raked in a total of $2.3 million since her campaign launched last November; about four months after Sen. Patrick announced his candidacy.